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How to Create a Message Architecture for Internal Communications

Posted by EmployeeChannel on 10.5.2017

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As organizations enter the final quarter, many will be planning and budgeting for next fiscal year. For most, planning and budgeting will be shaped by high-level organizational objectives as well as departmental objectives.

As HR and Internal Communications teams plan and budget, they have an opportunity to make internal communications a strategic asset that will build and strengthen employee relationships and drive business outcomes.

To have that type of impact, HR and Internal Communications teams must take a strategic approach to internal communications by developing a message architecture that guides employee communications throughout the year.

Developing a message architecture for internal communications requires four levels of planning:

Level 1

Establish an annual internal communications objective for each of the organization’s strategic objectives.

Internal communications objectives should be framed to reinforce the organization’s business objectives and should include a set of targeted results. Internal communications can often “piggy back” on external communications objectives to achieve the desired business outcomes.

Level 2

Develop one or more communication programs that will advance each annual communications objective. 

Programs are large scale and are executed over the course of the year and, in some cases, beyond. You will need a different program for each annual communications objectives; however, it is important to keep the number of programs manageable.

Level 3

Establish multiple campaigns in support of a single program’s goals.

Campaigns consist of a coordinated set of activities (communications) so that employees get the information they need to respond or react in a way that will advance the program’s objectives. Each campaign should have an action plan, timeline, and targeted results in terms of user engagement.

Determine how you will measure success for each campaign and focus on results at the campaign level rather than the activity level. Aggregate campaign results to see how well you have achieved overall program goals.

Level 4

Create a discrete set of activities in support of the goals of each campaign. 

The purpose of an activity, the targeted employee audience, and the content should be carefully crafted to support campaign objectives.

Select the best channel to meet campaign objectives. While a multichannel strategy is necessary to achieve program-level objectives, implementing a fit-to-purpose channel strategy for campaigns and individual activities is more likely to drive desired outcomes. Simplify your channels.

Capture employee responses or reactions for each activity and use that feedback to refine the next set of activities in a campaign or in the next campaign.

Many, if not most, internal communications today are ad hoc and executed at the activity level. Ad hoc communications will remain an integral part of an internal communications strategy. 

However, internal communications will not be regarded as a strategic asset unless they are planned, executed, and their results measured in the way that we measure communication with customers and its effect on customer acquisition and retention. 

A message architecture is the first step in making internal communications a strategic enabler of employee engagement and productivity.

Topics: internal communications, HR communication

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